The Boston Bruins found themselves on the brink of going down 2-0 in their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, but a torrid comeback gave Boston a 5-3 win and evened the series at 1-1.
Boston trailed 3-1 in the third period with time running short, but four goals in eight minutes sent the TD Garden faithful home happy, according to CBSSports.com:
With the win, the Bruins also snapped Montreal's five-game winning streak in Boston, per ESPN's John Buccigross:
It came as no surprise how intense Game 1 of this series was since the Bruins and Canadiens are two of the oldest rivals in the history of sports. It was quite apparent early in Game 2 that there would be no drop-off in that regard.
Things got chippy early with Habs forward Rene Bourque and Bruins defenseman Torey Krug each being sent to the box for canceling minors after mixing it up just over a minute into the contest.
Boston showed a sense of urgency early in the game and it nearly took the lead behind what would have been an unlikely goal scorer.
Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton had Canadiens goalie Carey Price beat, but he rung his shot off the post, as Jeff Pini of Boston.com noted:
All eyes were on Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban after he scored two goals, including the overtime winner, in Game 1. He received a chilly reception from the Boston faithful, which Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com chalked up to respect:
The opening minutes weren't kind to Subban as he had issues that forced him to the locker room twice. Per Mark Divver of The Providence Journal, Subban suffered a hand injury:
It didn't keep Subban off the ice long, but it was a potentially scary situation as he appeared to have his hand cut by the skate of Bruins forward Brad Marchand, according to Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com:
Boston continued to carry the play and eventually earned a five-on-three power play after forwards Dale Weise and Brandon Prust took hooking and holding penalties, respectively, one minute apart.
The Bruins were unable to cash in, but they clearly had Montreal reeling. Price was able to keep Boston off the scoreboard until the game's first breakthrough finally occurred about 13 minutes in.
A savvy play from defenseman Andrej Meszaros resulted in the puck ending up on Daniel Paille's stick. He quickly deposited it into the open net to put Boston up 1-0, per Jamie Erdahl of NESN:
It was a fine way for Paille to get back into the swing of things as he hadn't played since April 12 due to a head injury, according to the Bruins' official Twitter page:
Montreal tried to battle back and earned a power play in the closing minutes of the period, but it was unable to capitalize. Boston entered the locker room with a 1-0 advantage and it had to be thrilled with its performance in the first frame.
After such a poor first period, the Habs had to make some major changes in order to turn things around. Whatever head coach Michel Therrien said during the intermission must have worked as Montreal looked like a different team to open the second.
The Canadiens immediately put pressure on the Bruins and had them scrambling in their own zone. Goalie Tuukka Rask couldn't get into proper position and forward Brad Marchand didn't help matters as a turnover led to a rare goal from Habs defenseman Mike Weaver, per James Toscano of CSNNE.com:
Boston looked sloppy and apprehensive throughout the period, but it initially appeared to regain the lead with roughly five minutes remaining in the middle stanza. Milan Lucic directed a shot past Price in front of the net, but replay determined that Lucic guided it in with his hand, so the goal was disallowed:
Business really seemed to pick up after that as things got chippy in the latter stages of the period. Canadiens forward Lars Eller hit Rask with a snow shower, which led to a scrum in front of the Boston net:
That led to canceling minor penalties to make it four-on-four, but Meszaros took a penalty seconds later to put Montreal on the power play. That proved to be a costly mistake for the Bruins.
Thomas Vanek is among the best power-play performers in the game due to his prowess in front of the net and he proved it once again by deflecting a Subban shot past Rask to put the Habs on top:
Producing against the Bruins is nothing new for Vanek as he averages better than a point per game against Boston over the course of his career, according to NBC's Liam McHugh:
Subban has been in the middle of just about everything in the early going of this series and that continued in the third period. As Subban dumped the puck into the Boston zone, Thornton attempted to rattle him with a big hit.
Subban alertly ducked out of the way, which resulted in Thornton's knee buckling awkwardly, per Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Although Subban figures to catch some heat from Bruins fans, it is tough to blame him for getting out of the way of a freight train like Thornton.
That act of self-preservation proved fruitful for the Habs as Subban figured into yet another goal soon after. Just as they did at the end of the second period, Subban and Vanek combined for another power-play marker, as Julie Stewart-Binks of Fox Sports 1 noted:
Vanek played quite poorly in Game 1 and saw his ice time slashed significantly, but he took responsibility and knew that improvements needed to be made, according to Nancy Marrapese-Burrell of The Boston Globe.
As a line and even as a team, I don't think we played well (in Game 1). (Price) stole us the game and (Subban) stepped up and had (two) big goals. We're not ignorant for us (needing) to be better as a line and myself as an individual. When things aren't going well, you're going to change lines — there's a message there for sure, but I have to be better. As a line, we have to do more.
Just when it seemed like the Bruins were down and out, they showed the resiliency that allowed them to win the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's best team during the regular season.
Boston's rally began with about nine minutes remaining as defenseman Dougie Hamilton beat Price with an accurate shot from the point, according to NBC Sports:
With the momentum starting to shift in the Bruins' favor, a fortuitous bounce allowed them to tie the game less than four minutes later.
After winning a puck battle along the boards, Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron furthered his reputation as a clutch player by putting it past Price to level the game at 3-3.
Bergeron's shot was of the seeing-eye variety as it bounced off defenseman Francis Bouillon and found the twine in fluky fashion:
The Habs were left looking for answers at this point as they attempted to stem the tide, but things were too far gone. Forward Reilly Smith completed the whirlwind comeback two minutes later as Boston's third straight goal gave it a 4-3 lead, per SportsCenter:
The reeling Canadiens pulled Price in a desperation effort to force overtime for the second time in as many games, but Lucic put an exclamation point on Boston's shocking victory with an empty-net goal, as NHL on NBC noted:
Many expected Boston to bounce back with a Game 2 win on home ice after squandering so many opportunities in Game 1, but the Bruins took quite a roundabout route to get there.
Montreal was mere minutes away from putting the Bruins against the ropes and giving itself an opportunity to eliminate Boston quickly.
The Canadiens have enough talent to overcome this disappointing loss and they have had plenty of success against the Bruins this season, but there is no doubt that Boston will enter Game 3 with far more confidence.
Because of that, the Bruins have now firmly reestablished themselves as the favorites to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.
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